Ask Santa Cruz County Chief Probation Officer Scott MacDonald about the value of thinking outside the box and his eyes light up. If you want someone to promote the effectiveness of the current corrections system, then you better find someone else to talk to. MacDonald is quick to repeat the quote that “the corrections system needs to do more correcting and less collecting.”
For the past seven years, Santa Cruz County has been thinking outside the box on how it treats technical parole violators. Their program is called the Warrant Reduction Advocacy Program (WRAP) — and it’s working. Since the program’s inception, Santa Cruz County has been able to reduce warrants by more than 60 percent.
At a recent CSAC Institute course, the topic was county information technology services. A key message delivered during the course was how counties need to work toward better use of information technology to efficiently deliver services to residents. And that’s exactly what Nevada County is doing through its My Neighborhood GIS Application. This isn’t a program for which you need an IT degree to figure it out. It’s very user-friendly.
In talking with the students in Solano County’s “Money Matters” program for foster youth, there is a common theme among them: they are getting it. For the first time, they are learning about personal finance and the integral role it will play in their future success.
This program is truly a community partnership among public and private organizations, including Solano County Health and Human Services, Travis Credit Union, United Way North Bay and Solano County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Representatives of these groups see the program as an investment into the future of Solano County and its residents, providing much-needed instruction and advice to a group that too often falls through the cracks.
There’s a well-known quote that reads, “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” In the case of Calaveras County’s behavioral health cell phone program, this simply holds true. To address the isolation and disconnectedness of Calaveras County residents with serious mental illness, behavioral health officials created an innovative way to use mobile phones to support recovery and reduce psychiatric hospitalizations.
Monterey County’s KickStart Ex-Offender Re-Entry Employment Program is about providing ex-offenders with the tools to find a job. Through a series of workshops, ex-offenders learn everything from writing a resume and dressing for an interview, to how to show contrition for their offenses. But the value of this program runs much deeper — it’s changing the outlook ex-offenders have of themselves and their lives.